On This Date in History: These days, every time there is a lack of rain in an area of the country, stories start surfacing about some who claim its an example of Global Warming. The truth is that droughts have happened throughout the history of time. It’s funny how when the Global Warming talk comes up, even more recent history is ignored. The Dust Bowl years represented a pretty long time frame of below average rainfall and in conjunction with poor farming techniques, caused a disaster and helped contribute to a long economic depression. So, these periods of dry weather over an extended period are not new. In fact, going back through time, mankind has tried to invent a way to make it rain. Even today, there is research going on in cloud seeding efforts to try and control the rain. The results have been inconclusive.
In recent days, we’ve seen the “stimulus bill” in which there was much criticism over spending on projects that have been labled “pork barrell.” This type of charge is not new and I wonder what the masses thought on this date in 1891, when the United States Department of Agriculture hired and funded a special agent. His job was to make it rain.
Now, there was a theory floating about that producing big noises in the sky would make it rain. It was called the “concussion method” and the idea was that gunpowder explosions in the sky would create rain. They called the process “air quakes.” The notion was brought forth by Edward Powers who in 1880 wrote that in wars, often when there was a heavy cannonade, significant rain soon followed. He said that the jarring of the air combined with smoke caused a reaction with “nuclei or mechanical retaining points.” He also suggested that the atmospheric pressure was affected by the concussion and the buoyancy of the gases and heat given off by the explosion forced a rising of the air which caused a disturbance. Somehow, he then deduced that the explosions created electricity and friction “producing polarization of the earth and sky…inducing…other conditions necessary for storm formation, electrical manifestation being a constant forerunner and concomitant of storms…” There were other theories of rain making but General Robert St. George Dyrenforth said he didn’t understand those but, as an old soldier, he too had observed copius amounts of rain following cannon battles. So that’s the one he went along with and got the backing of Illinois Senator Charles B. Farwell. Just like today, all you need to do is convince a politician that you deserve government money and bingo..into the budget you go. As I’ve pointed out many times on these here pages…what we see today is nothing new. I guess no one ever thought that maybe it would have rained whether there was a battle or not. Nope…it had to be the cannon fire! Never mind the times it did not rain after a battle…just like some ignore the droughts of the past today.
In 1890, Congress appropriated about $9,000 to test out the theory and hired Dyrenforth to do the deed. Experimentation began in 1891 at c Ranch in Andrews County near Midland, Texas. The experimentation continued throughout 1891 and Governor James Stephen Hogg of Texas was so excited he wrote a letter to Texas politician John Dix announcing his intent to observe the action. When Hogg found out that Dyrenforth had returned to Washington, he added a note at the bottom of the letter suggesting that the experiments continue in the Southwestern part of Texas, which they did through 1892 near San Antonio.
Well, Dyrenforth piled up enough munitions to start a small war. He fired cannons into the sky, attached explosive to kites and did anything else he could think of to send ripples through the atmosphere to create a cloud burst. Reportedly, one time it did rain. The rest of the time, he came up dry. One would think that over a long period of time more than once at least a rain shower would show up on its own, but apparently the General wasn’t that lucky. One editor reported that “he attacked front and rear, by the right and left flank. But the sky remained clear as the complexion of a Saxon maid.” Dyrenforth’s official job title at the Department of Agriculture was pluviculturist. That’s the governmental term for rainmaker. The people of Texas came up with their own title for him…General Dryhenceforth.
Weather Bottom Line: Really a kinda interesting situation getting going here for the weekend. The severe threat for early Friday morning is limited and mainly west with gusty winds the primary threat around here, but I suspect the time of night will probably limit
the ferocity somewhat. I’ve got details at the bottom. Now, this time, I’ve gone around the world to bring you weather depictions. I’ve got the Canadians, the Brits and the Japanese to go along with the GFS and NAM models. All of them have snow near but not over us. There are two schools of thought. One is that the front comes through and a shortwave dives down and brings snow from say St. Louis to Paducah. Then there is the other idea that as the shortwave digs to the base of the trof, it swings around and brings snow from say
Lexington through the eastern part of the state. The NAM is pretty bullish on this scenario. Now, I just don’t think that the models are smart enough to put such a donut hole over us. So, while the heaviest snow in this go-round of the models is close but not here, I just would not count on there being nothing. Let’s say a half inch or so and maybe even some rain going to snow…or like I said yesterday…similar to last Saturday. The difference between what I said yesterday and now is that the data suggests the event is on Saturday rather than Saturday night and Sunday morning.
It’s also coming together temperature wise pretty much as I thought it might which is in between the milder forecasts that we saw on tv earlier this week and the extreme cold showing up on some of the earlier models. I would suggest preparing for a mild start on Friday but to be
ready for blustery conditions for the afternoons with temperatures in the upper 30’s. We’re probably looking at the 30’s for highs on Saturday and Sunday and maybe up to the low 40’s on Monday. Generally cloudy conditions will prevail Friday through the weekend with maybe a break coming on Monday afternoon or so. We start a gradual warm up by Tuesday into midweek.
DAY 1 CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0633 PM CST THU FEB 26 2009
VALID 270100Z – 271200Z
…THERE IS A SLGT RISK OF SVR TSTMS FROM IL TO NERN TX…
…MID MS VALLEY TO NERN TX…
WELL DEFINED UPPER VORT MAX IS SHIFTING EAST ALONG THE MN/IA BORDER
WITH TRAILING SHORTWAVE TROUGH EXTENDING SWD ALONG THE KS/MO BORDER.
LARGE SCALE ASCENT REMAINS FOCUSED PRIMARILY WITHIN WARM ADVECTION
ZONE ALONG/NORTH OF RETREATING WARM FRONT WHERE EXPANDING
PRECIPITATION SHIELD IS SPREADING ACROSS THE GREAT LAKES. ALTHOUGH
ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS ARE EMBEDDED WITHIN THIS COOLER
PRECIPITATION…STRONGEST CONVECTIVE UPDRAFTS ARE FOCUSED ALONG
ADVANCING COLD FRONT FROM WCNTRL IL…SWWD INTO NERN OK. THIS TREND
SHOULD CONTINUE THROUGH THE NIGHT AS MORE MEANINGFUL INSTABILITY
EXISTS SOUTH OF I-70 OVER MO…PARTICULARLY SWRN MO INTO SERN OK/WRN
AR. THUNDERSTORMS FROM SGF TO FSM ARE INTENSIFYING WITHIN THIS
HIGHER ZONE OF INSTABILITY AND STRONG DEEP LAYER SHEAR. 00Z
SOUNDING FROM SGF DEPICTS STEEP LAPSE RATE ENVIRONMENT…7-7.5
C/KM…WITH ENOUGH BUOYANCY FOR ROBUST UPDRAFTS…MUCAPE ROUGHLY
1500 J/KG. ALTHOUGH STRONG CONVERGENCE ALONG THE COLD FRONT WILL
ENHANCE LINEAR DEVELOPMENT…STORM MODE REMAINS SOMEWHAT DISCRETE
ACROSS THIS REGION SUGGESTING SUPERCELLS ARE POSSIBLE FOR THE NEXT
FEW HOURS AT LEAST. WITH TIME CONVECTION SHOULD DEVELOP SWD ALONG
WIND SHIFT OVER SERN OK INTO PORTIONS OF NERN TX. A BROKEN SQUALL
LINE WITH EMBEDDED SUPERCELLS SHOULD THEN PROGRESS ACROSS MO/AR INTO
SRN IL LATER THIS EVENING INTO THE OVERNIGHT HOURS WITH LARGE HAIL
AND DAMAGING WINDS. ISOLATED TORNADOES CAN NOT BE RULED OUT WITH
SUPERCELL STRUCTURES OVER SRN MO INTO AR…ESPECIALLY THIS EVENING
BEFORE CONVECTIVE MODE BECOME A BIT MORE LINEAR IN NATURE.